The Tragedy of Yemen

Al Qaida has captured a significant part of Aden, a large port city in Yemen that used to be the capital of the country’s more secular Southern region. Saudi Arabia has destroyed Yemen with 5 months of unrelieved, horrifying bombing and a blockade that allows almost no food or humanitarian aid to enter this heavily import – dependent country.

The hunger and desperation are growing in Yemen. The state has been destroyed, and a terrorist organization of crazy religious fanatics has stepped into the vacuum.

The excuse that the Saudis use to bomb Yemen is that they are helping fight the rebels who are supposedly supported by Iran. Simply put, Saudi Arabia is waging a war on Iran on Yemeni soil while the Yemenis get to pay the price and Al Qaida celebrates new territories falling into its hands.

After Yemen ‘ s last remaining port was bombed into the ground, even the International Red Cross suspended its work in the country. 65% of the country’s population has no access to any medical care. 21 out of the country’s 25 million people struggle to find access to potable water.

The US is allowing the Saudis to destroy Yemen and create a humanitarian disaster of untold proportions because Obama needs to demonstrate to the Congress that he’s prepared to be tough on Iran if needed. The goal, of course, is to ensure that the Iran deal is ratified. And it’s an important goal. But there is always a price to pay for every decision you make in foreign affairs.

The tragedy of the situation is compounded by the Saudis’ total failure to defeat the Houthi rebels. All of the bombings, all of the destruction, the blockade are only hurting regular, peaceful Yemenis. And the only clear winner is the organization of crazed religious fanatics who will further victimize the people of Yemen.

There’s nothing we can do, obviously. But I believe it is important to stop navel – gazing and discussing Trump and Ashley Madison every once in a while and get informed about things that are happening in the world.

11 thoughts on “The Tragedy of Yemen”

  1. Dear Clarissa, you are very relevant and so is the situation in Yemen. If only that situation was as simple as you say!

    Yemen is a tribal country outside the main towns. The Houthis are a tribe from the north who took over the capital, Sanaa, and ousted the corrupt president, who was/is Saudi supported. He retreated to the southern port city of Aden, where he was not wanted. The Houthis pursued him to Aden, he left andf the Houthis ransacked Aden.

    Meanwhile in the ‘upcountry’ regions Al Quaida have continued their campaign of kidnapping foreigners, intimidating local rural people and killing anybody who stands up to them.

    The Saudis don’t like Yemen, it has a population almost as large as theirs but is poor because it has no oil, so many Yemeni’s want to migrate to Saudi Arabia. So the Saudi’s expressed their support for the ousted Yemeni president by bombing the hell out of Aden, destroying homes, hospitals and port buildings. Meanwhile the Houthi occupiers destroyed homes, the water supply and the airport.

    Al Quaida haven’t occupied Aden. It’s always been a cosmopolitan city and the destruction dealt by Saudis and Houthis is devastating. Currently the Yemeni government is incapacitated and many of the people in Aden are hoping that now they have driven the Houthis who tried to ransack their town onto the sea, there will be peace sufficient for their port to be revived. A few ships are now able to deliver desperately needed supplies and the airport at Khormaksar has re-opened.

    The rest of Yemen is sadly still in chaos and I don’t pretend to know what the answer is. I do have contacts in Aden and I think the Adenis really want to become independent from Yemen, which took them over a few decades ago.

    How this all relates to Iran I really don’t know, most Yemenis don’t give a damn about Iran, or America, or Al Quaida. They would like them all to go away!


    1. Yes, absolutely, Yemenis are just caught in this insanity through absolutely no fault of their own. This is why I feel for their situation. They are trapped between these conflicting interests that don’t give a damn about them. And that’s very unfair.


    2. “The Saudis don’t like Yemen, it has a population almost as large as theirs but is poor because it has no oil, so many Yemeni’s want to migrate to Saudi Arabia”

      Isn’t this the crux of the conflict? Yemen has a large amount of the viable farming land on the peninsula and as a result they produced a much higher population than they can comfortably support (Malthusian trap).

      As a result there’s always pressure to send a bunch of them to Saudi Arabia where they’re not wanted and so the Saudi government periodically tries to kill large numbers of Yemenis or at least keep them at bay.


      1. It’s an interesting idea, but I don’t know about Yemen having that much viable land, they have insufficient water and Saudi Arabia can afford to irrigate and develop desert areas in the same way as the Israelis can.

        The east of Yemen is the vast, barren, rocky desert known as ar-Rubʿ al-Ḫālī (the Empty Quarter). The western area near the Red Sea produces coffee and grain. There are – or were when I lived there – large areas of mango, banana and other plantations near the southern coast at Lahaj, but otherwise I understand the main crop grown is quat, which is a drug, not a food. These crops alone would neither produce nor sustain their population of around 25 million. Yemen has always been dependant on its ports.

        The coastal population is centred around a number of small fishing ports and the international ports of Hodeiah on the Red Sea and Aden on the Gulf of Aden. These ports support quite large populations, Aden had (before the disaster this year) a population of around 800,000 who have been historically supported by work in the port and container terminal, tourism, the oil refinery industry, fishing and as ships crew. Many have travelled to and from Djibouti and Somalia which are nearer to much of the Yemeni population than the border with Saudi Arabia.

        However the population numbers have arisen, I do agree that the Saudis are always keen to kill Yemenis. Another thirty have died today.


  2. Glad you think my comment is informative, I’m aware that my information comes only from one side in the current conflict. However I do have great affection for Yemen and particularly for Aden, in the 1960’s I spent some of the best, most formative years of my childhood there.
    The ‘Aden Protectorate’ was one of the remaining small bits of the rapidly declining British empire and my dad was part of the ‘occupying forces’, though he was an army doctor, he never shot anybody. After the Suez crisis in the 1950’s some of the Adenis began demanding independence, violence began and escalated until the British left in 1968, when the Protectorate was rapidly subsumed into the communist republic of South Yemen, which in turn, after more conflict became part of a whole Yemen. Yemeni people haven’t known much peace for decades it’s very sad. What have they done to deserve this? After all they are the nation which gave coffee to the world!
    I’m aware that my view of the place is a result of both privilege and rose tinted sunglasses, but I was only eleven when I left.


    1. This is why I love blogging. It puts me in touch with people who have fascinating, well-informed perspectives, and that’s very enriching.

      I’ve never been to Yemen or even anywhere close to the region but I’m trying to learn more. Thank you for your help!


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